Dominican Republic (MNN) — There's a small window of opportunity in the Dominican Republic.
"The timing is now. We have an opportunity, and we can be the presence of Christ," says Jerry Haag of Orphan's Heart.
The group is partnering with Danilo Medina and Candida Montilla de Medina, President and First Lady of the Dominican Republic, to change communities.
"We're going to come alongside in an exciting project…really a holistic program to address needs on a transformational level," Haag explains.
Orphan's Heart is building a community center, church, and homes for vulnerable families in a particularly impoverished area. Haag says Medina has already started an agricultural program in this community where women and children can grow their own food.
While transporting Orphan's Heart leadership to this rural community, Haag says the president revealed a "shocking statistic:" In the DR, single moms head up 40% of families.
"There's a direct correlation between those families and poverty," states Haag. While he admires single women who try to raise kids on their own, Haag recognizes the need for support.
"I have great respect and admiration for single moms who are able to meet all of [their kids'] needs," he says. "What a challenge in a developing country, where there's so many more difficulties in just trying to access food and [making sure] their kids have medical care."
Haag says a first step in the transformative process they're bringing to the DR is constructing the actual center. Next, Orphan's Heart will plant a church within the center with a local pastor to lead it. Then will come feeding programs and education for the kids, and vocational training for adults in the evening.
"We'll be taking medical teams in to address medical needs, right in this rural area. And that will be the center of this entire community," says Haag.
In addition, homes for the neediest of families will be built around the community center.
"We're putting good homes in place. Good homes for these families, homes that will stand the test of time," says Haag, adding that homes will be constructed using a new technology.
"These are fully-insulated homes; they have a greater structural strength than a wood-frame home. They'll withstand earthquakes and hurricanes better than a wood home, so these families are going to be safe."
Best of all, Haag concludes, "It will all point back to the church and to that pastor. Jesus Christ will be lifted up, and we will be the presence of Jesus to meet all of these needs: the physical, the social, the medical, and most importantly: the spiritual.
"Anybody can go build a home; anybody can take care of kids; anyone can feed a child. But what we offer is an eternal impact and an eternal relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ."
And while Orphan's Heart does need funding for this project, "We need people to go with us–volunteers to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus."
Click here to see when the next DR trip is leaving. Pray that the needy will see Jesus through Orphan's Heart workers.
You can also find regular prayer requests and project updates by following Haag on Twitter.